When to Hire a Workers Compensation Lawyer
Consult a workers’ comp disability lawyer to protect your rights. Protect your job. Is your employer discouraging filing? Don’t settle without a review.
If you are injured in a work-related accident or through an occupational illness, you should first notify your employer, seek medical attention, and then file a workers’ compensation disability claim.
Workers’ compensation insurance will normally cover all your medical expenses and some of your lost income because of the incident. There are a few occupations where workers’ compensation doesn’t apply, such as being an independent contractor or an outside salesperson, but this can vary depending on the state where you work.
An important right you have is the right to consult with a private attorney to examine your case specifically. Choose someone who has knowledge, training, and experience dealing with the laws of workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation laws change all the time. This is because courts in all the states issue new decisions on claims and alter workers’ compensation rules based on the results of those cases. Because of this, you should talk with a specialist who keeps up with these changes.
Since this field is ever-changing, you should have a professional workers’ compensation attorney review your specific situation if your claim is not approved to your satisfaction. If a third party is involved in your injury or illness, it’s possible a civil court suit would be appropriate.
When Would I Need an Attorney for a Workers’ Compensation and Disability Case?
Most workers’ compensation and disability cases go through the system without any problems. However, there are occasional difficulties with a denial of a claim. Such a denial could stem from something very simple, such as your social security number being written down incorrectly. Other cases may have issues with the core of the claim itself; for instance, the injury or illness may not be related to your work, or your workplace may allege you violated company policies which caused your injury.
Unless the denial is a simple paperwork error, which you can easily correct, you may want to seriously consider getting legal help. Here are some situations where some expert legal assistance could turn your claim around:
- Your employer says you are not entitled to workers’ compensation coverage.
- Your employer failed to purchase workers’ compensation coverage when required.
- If your injuries require long-term care or surgery.
- If the outlook for your recovery is less than a full recovery.
- Your claim is denied for some fundamental reason.
- You are unable to work full-time but could work in a reduced capacity.
- You believe your benefits are too low.
- The workers’ compensation insurance carrier says your medical treatments are no longer needed.
- Your employer is threatening you with some type of discipline because you filed a claim.
- Your employer is arguing with the workers’ compensation board about their decision on your claim.
- Workers’ compensation offers you a lump sum settlement.
- You need assistance in obtaining vocational retraining and placement.
- You are afraid you won’t obtain fair treatment from the workers’ compensation board and want an expert to represent you.
If your claim is disputed or denied, you should obtain legal help from an attorney who has received specific training in the area of workers’ compensation laws. This is because you are entering an arena governed by a complex set of rules and procedures and it will likely be beyond your knowledge. You don’t want to be at a disadvantage.
There may be an attempt to settle the claim outside of the court system. If that proves impossible, a suit will more than likely have to be filed against the employer and possibly the worker’s insurance company.
A majority of attorneys offer a free initial consultation and most will offer legal assistance on a contingency basis with no payment up front. Their fees would be deducted from any settlement in your favor. In this situation, if your case is not successful, your attorney would collect no fees either from you or from your current workers’ compensation benefits.
If you decide to hire an attorney, make certain you understand how his fees will be paid. Nearly all workers’ comp attorneys work on a contingent fee basis. This means they will be paid a specific percentage of any amount they recover for you. A common charge is 20%. So, if they don’t recover any money for you, there would be no charge.
You need to understand what amounts of payments this percentage would be charged against, such as, past benefits or would it include future benefits also. In addition, it may be charged against benefits the insurance company is attempting to decrease.
Good questions to ask would be how many weeks of past and future benefits would the fee be charged against and who is ultimately responsible for the costs of going to court.
In general, if your workers’ compensation claim develops any sort of problem, your best bet may be to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney.